Edmonton Oilers expected to fire Ralph Krueger, hire Dallas Eakins

The Edmonton Oilers have scheduled a press conference for 4:00 PM today, and according to multiple reports the expectation is that head coach Ralph Krueger will be relieved of his duties.

The News

Josh Rimer of Sportsnet was the first to say that Krueger was finished, and he has also been more definitive on that point than others:

Darren Dreger of TSN and David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period have also tweeted that they expect Krueger to be dismissed.

Dreger, however, also reports additional news: while he says the Oilers may not announce the decision for a few days, his expectation is that Dallas Eakins will be taking over for Krueger. 

Dreger’s TSN colleague Ryan Rishaug confirms that he too expects that Eakins will be named head coach:

Meanwhile, CBC’s Elliotte Friedman tweets that while Krueger is out, Eakins is not yet in as his successor – while The Oilers like Eakins, they have yet to finalize a deal with him and there is interest from other teams.

And more news on the Eakins front:

The About-Face

On the day Craig MacTavish was hired, this is what he said:

I think it’s fair to say that there’s a very remote chance that where we are right now has anything to do with coaching… We’ve gone through four coaches in the last number of years, so for me to say it’s Ralph Krueger’s fault right now would be extremely shortsighted on my part. I give Ralph a lot of credit for the way he’s maintained a positive atmosphere.

Why the change? I’m going to quote Friedman again, because his thoughts echo my own on this:

Which ties back to another thing Mactavish said the day he was hired:

There are an incredible amount of difficult things you have to do in this position. I believed it as a coach, I believe it as a manager: if you can’t do the difficult things that the job requires, how can you ask your players to do those things. I’m not going to shy away from doing difficult things.

The Oilers interviewed Dallas Eakins, and at the time the belief was that they were going to hire an associate coach. Craig MacTavish has had a few months to get comfortable with Krueger, to think about the team’s coaching – and there were problems last year, as the team significantly regressed in areas they were strong in under Tom Renney but improved goaltending helped them tread water.

If Dallas Eakins is a better candidate for head coach today than Ralph Krueger, than that’s all that matters; the team would be foolish not to make the switch. And if Eakins is a better candidate than Lindy Ruff and Alain Vigneualt, it’s irrelevant that he’s a rookie NHL head coach – he’s done superb work in the AHL and there is no reason to believe that a man with his experience, credentials and personality won’t get the respect he deserves from his players.

The bottom line is this: if the Oilers hired the best man available, it was the right call, no matter how it looks.  

  • Wax Man Riley

    1. I wonder what bob stuffer will have to say regarding this.

    2. Mixed opinions on this myself. Kreuger should never have been hired IMO – there were far more qualified options available. And he was out of his league literally in the NHL. He talked a good motivational game which the media lapped-up but sounded too deepak chopra to me.

    But getting canned this way – via a leak on a Saturday when most of the sports media is proceeding from the early afternoon of beer to jäger bombs or bourbon – is a kind of crummy – yet typical MO for the Katz era oilers – is sad and u professional in the extreme and not worthy of the fact that he seems to be a man of high integrity (now sullied by being associated with this oil organization).

    I wish him well and yet am glad to see him gone.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Thanks for listening!!

        According to Mac t and stauffer Mac t made the decision in the last 24 hours and told Krueger forthwith. Now obviously Krueger had done nothing to precipitate this firing in the last 24 hours, so equally clearly MacT has been considering firing him for some time – likely planning all along to do so but wanting to line up a replacement before he pulled the trigger.

        That is – as I stated in the show – not professional.

        After I got off the line stauffer asked what the professional way to do it is.

        That’s simple. You fire them as soon as you have made the decision to look for their replacement. Likely in this case the day after the season ends.

        That is – you will note – when the NYR fired torts and when van fired AV and Colorado fired their coach. And all three have been engaged in a professional search, likely involving several levels of management – not just the GM

        That’s the professional way.

        Tune in to stauffers show on Monday if you want to hear the same point.

  • Wax Man Riley

    This comes as a huge surprise. MacT never pointed Krueger as a liability. Maybe Eakins – which is considered the best head coach outside the NHL – will be key to the new winning era in Etown.
    I for one (a huge Oilers fan in Ontario) believe that anything to better the team.
    Thanks Ralph, good luck.

  • DSF

    Eakins interviewed for the second time with the Canucks yesterday.

    Considering MacT says nothing has been signed, I would think it’ll be up to Eakins to make a choice.

    Complicating things from the Vancouver point of view, Gillis said yesterday that he still wants to interview another 4-5 candidates.

    Guess it will depend on how patient Eakins is.

  • DSF

    MacT is throwing grenades like he nobody’s business. Holy smoke first the Horc and Hemsky bombs and now Kreuger.

    Clean house. The message is clear. I am in charge here and we’ll move this team in the direction that I want regardless of the past 4 seasons. Balls to the wall. Its going to be one frakin hot off season.

  • OilClog

    http://oilersnation.com/2013/4/14/day-or-mourning/page/2

    #94 Harlie – Team Admiral Hallsy April 14 2013, 01:09PM 0 props

    Tambo gone, MacT installed as GM. (it’s inevitable anyways)

    Krueger demoted to AC or replaced with Lindy Ruff or Brent Sutter

    Hemsky, Paajarvi, Petry, Gagner and our 1st from this years draft packaged for a big Top 6 Centre and a Top 2 D man.

    Do your best to move Khabi, Smyth, Peckham, Belanger, Whitney, Pettrell, Potter etc for upgraded filler.

    Pray that Horcoff can bring the same performance next season.

    Light a fire under Eberle’s ass.

    Put the Nuge through an intense Body by B3nnett off season regimen.

    Name Hall as Captain.

    Change up the silks a bit, the orange and blue are looking like failure now so maybe time to go darker again or something.

    Fire DJ Dragon.

  • MKE

    My feeling is that the Oilers wanted Eakins but be said he wanted to be the head guy.

    Why would Eakins want to go to Vancouver where he has an incompetent GM, no prospects on the level even close to the fab 5…

    And Vancouver has MOST of their core pieces on the decline. And a GM looking to “retool”?

    The first thing that needs to be “retooled” in Vancouver is their horrific GM himself

    If Eakins is as smart as we think, there is no chance he would pick Vancouver over Edmonton from a hockey perspective

    Edmonton isn’t that far away from home for him.

  • OilClog

    Is Ralph Krueger the George Burnett of the new era? Is Bucky next in line or out the door! hah..yikes

    “George Burnett (born March 25, 1962) is the coach and general manager of the Belleville Bulls in the Ontario Hockey League. Burnett briefly coached the Edmonton Oilers for part of the 1994–1995 National Hockey League season before being fired by General Manager Glen Sather and replaced by assistant coach Ron Low.” wiki

  • The Soup Fascist

    No doubt this is a message sender. The rebuild is over ……. in MacT’s eyes anyway.

    Whether Eakins is a genius or not is yet to be determined, but if the reports are correct, MacT scooped the hottest commodity in the market at this time and spent precious little time dithering the day away, analyzing the process – instead just getting it done!

    Right or wrong no one can say he is timid. A sad day for RK who clearly did not get a lot of time to prove himself but as JW indicated if it makes the team better, make it so.

    I have been a bit critical of MacT’s talking too much about his upcoming plans, thereby tipping his hand, but this move was absolutely locked down, so I think I will give him the benefit of the doubt. My bad, MacT.

    Like I said, this is a message sender. The future is now. Lets hope the next six or seven moves that he makes can steer this team in the right direction and more importantly that the players on the roster in October get the same message.

    • I don’t know Soup?

      MacTavish has to completely “rebuild” ( hate that word) the roster.

      I have to think he has trades locked up right now and we as fans will get a pretty good idea on June 30th.

      The Oilers require three centers ( if Gagner goes to the wing )

      They need a LW preferably who can slide over to center (maybe Gagner)

      At least one top pairing defensmen.

      A whole new 3rd line or checking line.

      A coaching staff

      Two bottom 4 players.

      A goalie.

      It’s not pleasing to the eye that’s for sure, I’m not yet at panic mode but I’m getting there, worried he bit off more then he could chew, he sure has pinned himself in corner.

      I sure hope he’s got a handle on this.

      If not……..

      • The Soup Fascist

        Oh, I realize they are still a long way from being a playoff team let alone a contender – your points are valid. I guess my point is if MacT was looking at another year of abiding by “the process” and a close but no cigar finish at the end of the regular season next year, then keeping Krueger would be the smart play.

        This apparent hire and the imminent veteran purge indicate to me that the promise of bold change and non-acceptance of losing is the expectation. He still has to put a team on the ice but I think so far MacT has made it clear he will not pi$$ around in the effort. That is a refreshing change from the last few years,

  • MKE

    I liked Ralph and I thought he was a good coach, but something needs to be done here to change the culture.

    In this case I would hope there is significant overhaul with the rest of the staff.

    It’s nice to see MacT is willing to stand on what he believes in and will do what he feels is right for this team.

  • The Soup Fascist

    WEll if it is Eakin, the ball is in his court.
    Make a choice, but if you think MacT is going to wait while Gills sober’s up and takes time to interview 4 or 5 more guys.. I think MacT will move on quickly to another choice. I am sure there is another choice in the wings as we speak.

    Or maybe Eakins has made up his mind that he would rather coach in Vancouver where he lives, no matter what other offers are out there.

  • ubermiguel

    Don’t like it. Krueger is one of the reasons Schultz Jr signed here. Also it lets the players off the hook for their lousy performance. And it makes the Oilers look extra bush-league with 4 short-serving coaches in 4 years.

  • walker59

    Liked Ralph. Good man. He will do well beyond his Oilers’ experience.

    A previous coach as the new GM was his undoing–too many philosophical differences.

    There won’t be many dull days with MacTavish as GM. Dullness is out. There will be change, and more change, until the the Oilers become a good team, a play-off team and beyond that–Can we say Stanley Cup?

    Craig is acting like he has limited time. I like that. There hasn’t been enough desperation in this organization for years.

    I wonder what the young core feel about his move? They, at least, know they have a kick ass GM. The pressure is on.

  • OilLeak

    My guess is that if Kruger is fired he ends up in Winnipeg, Buffalo, Columbus, Carolina or Boston as an associate coach. There is no secret that he is a powerplay genius and there will be teams lining up for those services.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    This in a round about way puts the owness(sp?) on the players, when Eakins or whoever comes in as coach wont be going anywhere for the term of the contract. If the players don’t like it down the road they go.

    Still hoping for AV as the HC